If ever a band left me in two minds, it is Steel Panther. Is it all a big joke or something more sinister in a modern age? I got the chance to watch up close and personal at the O2 in Bristol to see if I could make my mind up one way or another.
On an old fashioned two band bill, it fell to Toby Jepson’s Wayward Sons to perform warm up duties (in Steel Panther terms they were the fluffer for the Americans porn). As always their set was a lesson in driving rock and roll. With Toby Jepson spitting out the lyrics, seemingly full of anger and bile, Nic Wastell never still for a second, Sam Wood all hair flicks and solos, Dave Kemp providing layers of keyboard texture and Phil Martini keeping them all honest from the back, the energy doesn’t drop for a second and the reaction from the crowd is as good as I have seen.
Opening with “Any Other Way”, “Don’t Wanna Go” and “Black as Sin” Jepson’s lyrics are pointed and relevant. “Ghost”, “Little White Lies” and “Alive” keep the tempo up and there is more crowd interaction than I have seen before from the Wayward ones. “Crush”, “Small Talk” and “Jokes on You” bring us to the set closer, and one of my favourite songs on any of my playlists; “Until The End”, a real classic of a song that gets a massive response from the Bristol crowd.
A quick changeover, the lights go down and Steel Panther rip into “Eyes of a Panther”. Nothing has changed since the last time I saw them four years ago. They may even be wearing the same clothes! Michael Starr in LA shades shakes hands with pretty much the entire front row. Satchel simulates oral sex with most of them. Lexxi Foxx lasts about half a song before checking that the make up and hair are all in place, and Stix Zadinia (I love that name) sits high above at the kit.
“Let Me Come In” ends in the longest intro session ever as each member of the band takes a turn in the limelight. Dark humour won the day as Stix performed an impression of Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen that ended in a one handed attempt to catch a drumstick. “All I Wanna Do” ends our time in the pit and as we leave I realise just how rammed the O2 now is as there is no floor space to be had anywhere.
“Asian Hooker”, “Party Like Tomorrow”, “Poontang”, “Fuck Everybody” and “I Aint Buying”, all interspersed with surprisingly good solos, particularly from Satchel, form the bulk of the set. There is, without doubt, a lot of filler. Almost as much time is spent talking to the crowd as playing to them. Stix leaves the drums to take up the keyboard and a young lady “Harriet” is bought on stage to be “serenaded” with “Weenie Ride”. She is so drunk that even the band look slightly concerned at what may happen, but against all indications it goes off without a hitch as each member sings their own song to her and she manages to stay on the high stool. She is joined on stage by as many girls as can get over the barrier (to be honest some of the security deserve an award for their efforts in lifting people out of the crowd. This wasn’t a slim, fit LA audience) for “Party All day” and “17 Girls”.
The end of the set for me, is the strongest as the chat and pantomime finish and we surge through “Community Property”, “Death to All” and “”Gloryhole”. An ecstatic crowd who loved every second cheered them into the night and I will admit that I had a big smile as I left the venue.
Everybody should catch Steel Panther at least once. If you see it as a modern pantomime, tongue in cheek and played for laughs, it is a ridiculously enjoyable evening. Is it right for modern times? Almost certainly not, but that is what makes it even more fun!
Review and Pics – Rob Wilkins